The Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC) has received $80 million in government funding to develop a nuclear microreactor in Canada through its partnership with Westinghouse Electric Company.
The funding is expected to support licensing and other work involved in the project, which is expected to be completed in 2029. This announcement follows an agreement signed last year between the two companies to jointly work to develop an eVinci microreactor in Saskatchewan to explore the industrial, research, and energy-use applications of the technology.
The nuclear-powered microreactor can produce up to 5 megawatts of energy and can produce high-temperature heat needed for industrial applications including alternative fuel production such as hydrogen, Westinghouse said.
“Our vision is to see the first eVinci microreactor in an industrial application and lay the groundwork for many more projects in the future,” said Mike Crabtree, president and CEO of SRC. “What we learn through this project will prepare SRC to assist communities and industries in future projects.”
Westinghouse started review of the microreactor in June with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. The company is also seeking a joint review of some aspects of the new technology with the CNSC and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The company will soon build a test reactor in Idaho National Lab to allow for design finalization, testing, and licensing.
Microreactors Present New, Scalable Approach Nuclear Energy
Westinghouse, which was recently acquired by Brookfield and Cameco, has faced financial trouble in building some of its large nuclear projects, but microreactors and smaller-scale nuclear projects may address concerns associated with such large-scale undertakings.
Nuclear microreactors operate similarly to large nuclear plants, but their compact design allows for quicker, less cost-intensive construction as well as portability. Westinghouse’s eVinci microreactor itself is fully transportable and may be completely removed from its site after operating continuously for eight years or more, according to the company.
Westinghouse is a major contributor to the world’s nuclear energy supply, which will reportedly need to double by 2050 to meet world energy needs while reducing emissions. Cameco reports opportunities for further growth in developing the company’s microreactors and small modular reactors as Westinghouse goes forward in meeting rising nuclear energy demand.
According to the company, the eVinci is especially useful for providing carbon-free, safe, scalable energy in a variety of applications. The microreactor may provide electricity and heating for remote communities, and it consists of very few moving parts, allowing it to be assembled at the factory and ready for use upon shipment to a given location. The microreactors’ ability to operate in all weather conditions and temperatures also presents a viable energy platform for Saskatchewan and other parts of the world known to face harsh winters.